I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy D'Arcy, to the House.
National Surplus (Reserve Fund for Exceptional Contingencies) Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages
This is important legislation which will secure our future, maintain the economic stability that we have brought to the country and protect against potential shocks. I have one quick request for the Minister of State. I ask that the Department, when it is spending this money, would report to the Seanad as well as to the Dáil.
This Bill delivers on a commitment in A Programme for a Partnership Government to establish a rainy day fund. The Government's primary rationale in establishing such a fund is to enhance the resilience of the economy and the public finances to withstand future economic and fiscal shocks. Our economic history, especially more recently, highlights the importance of creating a fiscal safety buffer to help absorb the shocks that will inevitably come in the future while at the same time ensuring the long-term sustainability of the public finances. Our recent and continuing strong economic performance has given us a valuable opportunity not just to address the remaining effects of the crisis but to make prudent provision so we can alleviate the effects of a future crisis. The rainy day fund is intended to be used as a defined purpose instrument to address severe unanticipated events as opposed to the normal fluctuations within the economic cycle. This approach will align itself with the current EU fiscal framework rules under the Stability and Growth Pact. In the event of a crisis we do not intend to have to rely solely on the rainy day fund but it is an important source of access to liquidity in such a situation.
Given the priority that the Government and many Members of both Houses of the Oireachtas attach to the fund, it continues to be our intention to have the Bill signed into law as quickly as possible. The practicalities of commencement mean that in accordance with section 12 of the Bill, the Minister for Finance would need to issue an order to commence the Act before it can come into operation. Commencement requires that the necessary delegation order be made to the NTMA and the investment guidelines for the fund be ready, along with the NTMA confirmation that it is ready to make the transfer of money or assets from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, ISIF. While there is currently no timetable for the first payments into the fund, it is envisaged that they will take place towards the end of this year.
I thank Senators for their attention and engagement throughout the passage of this Bill.
Obviously while in the Chair I am completely impartial. That said, I delivered a Second Stage speech on this legislation last week and welcome its passage through the Houses.